EMPLOYEES OF the Ashtabula Animal Protective League hold seven black dogs that would love to find a home. (From left) Theresa Davies, feline caregiver; Scott Arkkelin, assistant animal manager; Sue Druktenis, animal manager; and Mike Riffe, director, hope to find homes for many of the black dogs that are living at the animal shelter in Kingsville Township.

KINGSVILLE - - The door to the Ashtabula County Animal Protective League shelter is on the same hinges, but it swings into a new place.

The shelter lobby has a new counter, chairs, retail display and animal adoption center after a massive three-day renovation.

"We needed more space, but honestly the old lobby was in terrible shape. This is a much nicer, more professional place for visitors," shelter manager Michael Riffe said.

Riffe said the shelter's expanded animal care, identification and adoption services made the renovation necessary.

"We do a lot more now as far as microchips for pet identification. It takes more time, more space and more effort to include these services here at the shelter," Riffe said.

The space includes a display of Hill's Science Diet pet food, which is exclusively fed at the shelter. The food is now sold in the shelter lobby. Lupine designer leashes and collars are also on display, as well as APL T-shirts.

The renovation was funded and built in memory of long-time APL supporter Helen Morrison. Now Riffe and the APL board members are looking to complete a new animal surgery center to accommodate the shelter's medical needs and institute a low cost spay/neuter program.

"The APL board members are committed to reducing the number of homeless animals in Ashtabula (County) through spay/neuter," Riffe said.

Riffe hopes to build play yards for the dogs to have more exercise. Thomas Fence donated fencing for the court-case dogs housed at the shelter.

Riffe and the APL volunteers are now fundraising to build a new laundry, an ongoing problem at the shelter.

"The laundry room is a real problem. The repairs never seem to end. We are hoping to raise enough money so every dog has a clean blanket in their cage every night. People would be shocked at how much laundry we actually do here," Riffe said.

To donate to the APL renovation project call Riffe at (440) 224-1222.

- - MARGIE TRAX PAGE - Staff Writer

Star Beacon Print Edition: 6/25/2007

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